Montgomery prosecutors have determined that four police officers who were found to have lied did so in "fairly minor" job-related matters that did not affect any court cases, Deputy State's Attorney Katherine Winfree said yesterday.
However, two other officers who are suspended are still being investigated because of allegations of more serious lying that could preclude them from being reliable prosecution witnesses in the future, Winfree said.
The issue surfaced last month after the new Montgomery police chief, Charles A. Moose, expressed outrage at a police academy graduation ceremony that eight officers continued to arrest people and testify in court even though the department had determined that they had lied.
Prosecutors had said they were concerned that cases could be compromised because of questions about the credibility of the officers' testimony. Defense lawyers, meanwhile, insisted on being told the officers' names, saying they wanted to know whether any of their clients had been stopped, searched or convicted based largely on the officers' word.
Winfree said the reaction to Moose's comments was "blown out of proportion. Nothing I saw would have impacted on the integrity of a past prosecution."
Moose has said laws protecting the confidentiality of police officers' disciplinary records prevent him from releasing the eight officers' names. He declined to discuss the matter yesterday.
Some defense lawyers said yesterday that they still want to know all of the facts for themselves, including the officers' names.
"I think there are a lot of people out there who feel that if you're willing to lie to your own employer, there's nothing to say you wouldn't be willing to lie about other things," said Jennifer Page, a Rockville defense lawyer and co-chair of the Montgomery Bar Association's criminal law section.
Winfree said she met with two police officials in the internal affairs unit Thursday and learned that six, not eight, current officers were accused of lying. Winfree said she read summaries of the investigation findings in four of the cases and determined that they had lied about things such as calling in sick when they weren't and lying to their supervisor about their whereabouts. None of the lies was told under oath, she said.
Winfree said she would have no reservations about putting those four officers on the witness stand again, but she said the two officers who are still under investigation for more serious lies might be a problem.
"They weren't outrageous lies," Winfree said, but she added, "If these people came back and were making arrests, we'd want to make an assessment about whether we'd want to continue to sponsor their testimony."